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Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection (anime review)

814131011398_anime-hanaukyo-maid-team-la-verite-dvd-primaryreview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection

Director: Takuya Nonaka

Studio: Daume

Author: Morishige

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 6, 2016

Format and Length: DVD / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Harem, Fan Service

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: C

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Hayate the Combat Butler

Synopsis:

Moving is seldom easy, but when newly orphaned Taro Hanaukyo arrives in Tokyo to live with his wealthy grandfather, what he finds literally blows his mind. Because Grandpa has skipped off to a remote island, leaving his estate and its huge staff at Taro’s beck and call. A staff that seems to consist entirely of maids: maids in charge of cooking, maids in charge of cleaning, maids in charge of computer programming, maids in charge of technological research and development, and, of course, maids in charge of making the garden grow.

But of course Taro doesn’t just have pretty maids all in a row; he’s got them in regiments and battalions! What was his grandfather thinking? And what will Taro do with them? Did we mention that he is a middle school student with otaku tendencies?

Head maid Mariel and her staff may be in for a rough period of adjustment as the new master of the house takes charge in Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection.

Commentary:

UGH, yet another anime series that had its plot ruined by fan service! Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection had a lot of promise in theory; however there was absolutely no tone or theme set up. Instead the first episode consists of bad one-liner jokes and Toro being chased around his manor by “thousands” of naked maids yelling “Toro-sama!!” and trying to smother him. This happens a couple of more times throughout the series but it just seems ridiculous. Then the plot completely flips into a sad story about Mariel, the head maid, and how her “secret” might mess up the love story between her and Toro.

There was no character development past the love story between Mariel and Toro. The only other character that was well done and added dimension to the story was Grace/Cynthia. They are the same person; just that one is awake while the other sleeps. The other characters seemed flat and took away from the scenes they were in. Sadly, Mariel’s “secret” is not so much a surprise or damaging to the story as it sets up the actual story line that is completed in the last three to four episodes. And you can see it coming from a mile away.

The animation was interesting. It looked like they changed animation styles after about 7 episodes as everything turned really bubbly then. It was a little distracting because you focus more on what happened to the animation instead of what is going on in the episode. The voice actors did a good job and the music was standard, nothing stood out and I cannot really remember any of it.
Extras:

Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: C

Personally, I would just watch Hayate the Combat Butler instead of Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection as it is the better of the two. However, if you want to see a boy get chased around his manor by naked maids then Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection is the series for you.

Strawberry Marshmallow (anime review)

strawberry-marshmallowreview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete TV Series

Director: Takuya Sato

Studio: Daume

Author: Miharu Hirami

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: May 10, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Lucky Star, Place to Place, K-On!, Kiniro Mosaic

Sweet, delectable and mixed with a random selection of exotic nuts, (Is this a household or a fruit salad?)

Synopsis:

Nobue Itou may be attending college, but her real lessons come from dealing with her 12-year-old sister Chika and her equally adorable friends. There’s Miu Matsuoka, the troublemaking girl next door who’s never found a diabolical plan that she wasn’t willing to hatch. Then there’s the perplexing Ana Coppola, who was born in England but has lived in Japan for so long that she’s forgotten most of her English and is unsuccessfully attempting to re-learn her British heritage based on some rather erroneous assumptions. After those two handfuls, shy, sensitive Matsuri Sakuragi should be a welcome dose of normality, but unfortunately Matsuri is also incredibly gullible. And then there’s Chika herself, who’s actually the most mature and sensible person in the Itou household… which comes in handy when her older sister attempts to raid Chika’s savings in order to buy cigarettes! Get ready for a cute overload so intense that it can be used as a deadly weapon when slices of everyday life get whipped to frothy perfection in Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete TV Series!

Commentary:

The slice of life genre is usually a very hard genre for some to watch or like. They are literally covering every day situations, and that can be boring for some. If you like the slice of life genre, you are aware that life itself is never boring, and that simple every day life can trigger emotional responses. The premise of Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete TV Series is really quite simple. We drop in and out of the everyday lives of Nobue, the slacking college student and so called adult, and her younger sister Chika and three of her best friends Miu, Ana, and Matsuri. Do not expect a complex plot here as each episode is filled with the everyday things we all have done like going to school, enjoying cake, shoveling snow, getting lost and playing sports. However, it never gets boring as mischief is just right around the corner and it will have you laughing your head off from the silliness. The other thing about this series is its one of the first to fall into the “cute girls doing cute things” genre, a pretty recent addition to a long list of all the genres anime covers. The simplicity of plot can be a strong point but it can also be its downfall if you one of those that finds “cute girls doing cute things” to be annoying.

This being a re-release (thank you very much Sentai for getting the older out of print series back into print for everyone to enjoy again) of an older anime, the art work is what you can expect it to be from a series originally from 10 years ago. Not overly done but well done. The music tends to be catchy and not annoying. The voice acting is one of the high points as they did a good job with the characters, and with keeping in character well while dealing with the ages of the characters. Voice acting younger characters and keeping it believable can be very hard. The characters are well developed over the series and you notice trends, and with some you can start seeing what they are going to do. The characters are well written and completely believable.
Extras:

Strawberry Marshmallow: The Complete TV Series includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with English and Japanese with English Subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: A-

Please Teacher! (anime review)

Please Teacher!review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Please Teacher!

Director: Yasunori Ide

Studio: Daume

Author: Yosuke Kuroda

U.S. Distributor: Nozomi Entertainment , Lucky Penny

U.S. Release Date: June 2, 2015

Format and Length: DVD / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Science Fiction, Comedy, Romance

Industry Age Rating: 16 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Waiting in the Summer, Please Twins and To-LOVE- Ru

“This is a priority one.”

Synopsis:

Kei Kusanagi isn’t your typical 15-year-old high school student. He is actually an 18-year-old with a rare disorder that puts him into what he calls, a “standstill”! When he was younger, this disorder left him in a deep coma which stunted his growth for three years. So he must make up the time that he lost to his “standstill”. Mizuho Kazami isn’t your typical teacher, either. She’s actually an alien sent by the Galaxy Federation to observe the Earth! As the sole human being with knowledge of Ms. Kazumi’s secret, Kei must marry her?! Between homework, dating, and a gorgeous wife – going to school has never been quite this fun! Will Kei have more “standstills”? Will Kei and Mizuho’s marriage last? You will have to watch Please Teacher! and find out.

Commentary:

Please Teacher! has to be one of the best rom-coms I have seen. Yes, the premise if the story is one of the silliest I have seen in a while; however, what develops out of this turns into a very touching romance as Kei and Mizuho both develop their love and feelings for one another. It was also refreshing to see that all the female characters were not in love with the same guy. Plus, the supporting characters also have romances of their own and those create interest in the plot line. The plot was also well done and did not seem rushed or slow. Twelve episodes plus the OVA is the perfect length for this series. Also, the alien aspect of the series and the real reason for Mizuho being on earth is just a small sub-plot so do not let that keep you from watching Please Teacher!.

Speaking of the characters, there was some amazing character development in Please Teacher! Almost each and every character in the series changed and grew in some way. Kei eventually learns that he must move forward instead of coming to a “standstill”. I really believe that without his marriage to Mizuho he never would have learned that lesson. After his three year “standstill”, Kei moves in with his aunt, Konoha, and his uncle, Minoru. Minoru is the town’s doctor and also faces the wrath of Konoha whenever he acts like a dirty old man. Those moments had me laughing.

Kei also had a few friends at school. They were Koishi Herikawa, Hyosuke Magumo, Kaede Misumi, Ichigo Morino, and Matagu Shidou. Hyosuke and Kaede were especially cute together and they could really have their own series. Koishi Herikawa loves Kei but eventually accepts that he loves someone else and moves on. If Mizuho was not in the picture, I believe they would have made a cute couple. However, I believe that Masami Yamada was introduced for a reason but nothing is ever said or done. Ichigo Morino has her own secret in the series and when it is made known it will probably surprise you. Matagu is the typical perverted teenage male character and sadly they do not really expand past that.

I also really loved Maho, Mizuho’s little sister. Maho is very close to her big sister and initially refuses to accept the fact that Kei is married to her. She follows Kei around town and tries to catch him cheating or doing something stupid. Eventually, Maho accepts the relationship between Kei and Mizuho and becomes one of their biggest cheerleaders. Then there is Hatsuho Kazami, Mizuho’s mother. She is a real piece of work as she is a very sensual, self-assured, and bold but subtly assertive woman. She makes Kei and Mizuho’s lives interesting to say the least. As you can tell, there are some amazing characters in Please Teacher! and it is difficult to choose a favorite.

As for the OVA, that is where all the fan-service for the entire series lives. It also gives you the conclusion you were wondering about after the last episode. Hatsuho interferes once again with Kei and Mizuho’s relationship, however this time it might actually be helpful. Needless to say, that is where the fan-service is and you will either have you use your imagination or watch the OVA.

The animation looked great for the age of the series, but I wish it had been in widescreen format instead of 4×3. However, I am ecstatic that Nozomi/Lucky Penny is picking up these older series and I cannot wait to see what they are releasing next. The voice actors were good and I really enjoyed the Japanese voice actors the most. The opening and closing songs were catchy and reminded me of other series that came out at the same time.

Extras:

Please Teacher! includes clean opening and closing animations, Marie Love Theater, Promotional videos, Music Clips, Commercials, Episode 13 preview, and Nozomi/Lucky Penny previews as special features. Please Teacher! has English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: A-

Please Teacher! is a well done rom-com. I was pleased that it had a conclusion and it was also a sweet series. I recommend watching Please Teacher! if you enjoy the rom-com genre as it is the best of both worlds.